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Author Topic: Advantages of light 'Mechs  (Read 11464 times)

Adastra

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Re: Advantages of light 'Mechs
« Reply #360 on: 19 October 2020, 18:27:35 »
If a random, unsupported rifle platoon tries tackling a mech by itself, the worst possible damage to the mech is usually going to be the risk of getting organic matter lodged in its foot actuators.  Unlike D&D, in Battletech there are no bands of rifle infantry randomly roving the countryside, blindly launching suicidal attacks against any mech they come across when they have no support or any real hope of actually harming the thing.

Against a wandering savannah master they have pretty good odds though, funny enough. Best case the hover can take out one man per turn, while the PBI can dish out pretty notable damage (don’t infantry deal damage in 2-point clusters? That’s pretty good motive hit and crit seeking). Even against a swarm of hovers, 28 guys can probably survive at least long enough to call in a response force, or better yet, artillery.

The equivalent to “wandering monsters” in a battletech context would be more like picket forces and opposing recon elements. Infantry platoons are nice to dot the landscape with to ensure you have something of a cohesive line. They do well at slowing down and blunting assaults long enough to mobilize a response force, or throw out blankets of FASCAM and hate.
« Last Edit: 19 October 2020, 19:13:23 by Adastra »

MoneyLovinOgre4Hire

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Re: Advantages of light 'Mechs
« Reply #361 on: 19 October 2020, 19:36:08 »
The issue with a wandering Savannah Master is actually hitting it.  A SM wouldn't stick around to fight, and even at cruising speed it's not an easy target.

There are already rules for units starting with preexisting damage as a result of ongoing conflict.  If they're not in a running battle with no time to rotate out for repairs, there's no reason for them to have damage- the idea that there are just tons of random infantry platoons floating around ambushing every hostile force that sets foot onto a world simply isn't born out in-universe.
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Adastra

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Re: Advantages of light 'Mechs
« Reply #362 on: 19 October 2020, 19:42:01 »
The issue with a wandering Savannah Master is actually hitting it.  A SM wouldn't stick around to fight, and even at cruising speed it's not an easy target.

There are already rules for units starting with preexisting damage as a result of ongoing conflict.  If they're not in a running battle with no time to rotate out for repairs, there's no reason for them to have damage- the idea that there are just tons of random infantry platoons floating around ambushing every hostile force that sets foot onto a world simply isn't born out in-universe.

The problem is that if the SM just leaves the infantry alone, those infantry can continue reporting its movements and position, especially if the PBI have chosen a good vantage point with long sightlines like any smart person would. VTOLs, artillery, or opposing hovers will then be vectored in to intercept. VTOLs especially will stomp all over SMs, being capable of higher speeds/TMMs and generally carrying equivalent or greater firepower, and their lesser endurance is irrelevant for the intercept role.

By contrast, if you kill the PBI quickly, they may be able to report in the contact, but by the time anyone arrives you can be gone.

There's another respect where hovers have a disadvantage. If hovercraft are anything like the real deal (which they are explicitly supposed to be), they will be quite loud and throw up lots of dust when there's dust to be had. They also tend to be very big for their weight compared to wheeled or tracked vehicles. That means people will see and hear them coming well before they actually arrive, and they can be incredibly easy to track.
« Last Edit: 19 October 2020, 19:53:44 by Adastra »

MoneyLovinOgre4Hire

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Re: Advantages of light 'Mechs
« Reply #363 on: 19 October 2020, 20:10:30 »
Savannah Masters are scouts and harrasser units.  They are not designd to kill infantry.  In fact, the only hover vehicle less-designed to kill infantry is the Regulator.  And frankly, I don't even know why hovercraft are even being discussed since the topic of the thread is light mechs.  A Savannah Master's response to an infantry ambush should not be trying to shoot it out with them, it should be to disengage (which unless they do something to block its movements somehow it should accomplish automatically) and report the infantry's position to allied forces so they can avoid it or send something to squash it.
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Adastra

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Re: Advantages of light 'Mechs
« Reply #364 on: 19 October 2020, 21:11:08 »
Savannah Masters are scouts and harrasser units.  They are not designd to kill infantry.  In fact, the only hover vehicle less-designed to kill infantry is the Regulator.  And frankly, I don't even know why hovercraft are even being discussed since the topic of the thread is light mechs.  A Savannah Master's response to an infantry ambush should not be trying to shoot it out with them, it should be to disengage (which unless they do something to block its movements somehow it should accomplish automatically) and report the infantry's position to allied forces so they can avoid it or send something to squash it.

I bring it up because hovercraft are one of the primary competitors to light mechs on the ground.  The thread is about the advantages of lights. So I'm comparing the two, offering potential advantages of one over the other.

I was also discussing it specifically in the context of rear-area raiding, stuff behind enemy lines. So "disengage and report in" isn't really viable in that scenario. You need to have enough firepower to push through rear-area defenses like PBI in order to get at the really soft targets. If you just leave them alone the enemy is getting a constant play-by-play of where you're going, such that by the time you get there they're going to be ready. Plus, killing random PBI is in itself a useful goal of raiding. You hurt morale, lead the enemy on wild goose chases, and poke out the enemy's eyes.

There are also roles like recon-in-force, where you're trying to provoke a reaction from the enemy, to feel out their numbers and concentration, while keeping them off-balance and potentially sniffing out weak spots that can be exploited. In those scenarios, running away without ever making contact with the enemy also means not doing your job.
« Last Edit: 19 October 2020, 21:14:26 by Adastra »

Wolf72

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Re: Advantages of light 'Mechs
« Reply #365 on: 19 October 2020, 21:33:54 »
(wished alt MGs were retconned to be available in most eras, ... and make HMG able to shoot up to 3 hexes, give reg a 4 hex range if needed --- all a different topic)

LMG or P SL for anti infantry work.  Need the range for light mechs, gah wait ...P SL is only 3 hexes (clan gets 6).  Make that an XP SL.
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MoneyLovinOgre4Hire

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Re: Advantages of light 'Mechs
« Reply #366 on: 19 October 2020, 21:43:22 »
I bring it up because hovercraft are one of the primary competitors to light mechs on the ground.  The thread is about the advantages of lights. So I'm comparing the two, offering potential advantages of one over the other.

I was also discussing it specifically in the context of rear-area raiding, stuff behind enemy lines. So "disengage and report in" isn't really viable in that scenario. You need to have enough firepower to push through rear-area defenses like PBI in order to get at the really soft targets. If you just leave them alone the enemy is getting a constant play-by-play of where you're going, such that by the time you get there they're going to be ready. Plus, killing random PBI is in itself a useful goal of raiding. You hurt morale, lead the enemy on wild goose chases, and poke out the enemy's eyes.

There are also roles like recon-in-force, where you're trying to provoke a reaction from the enemy, to feel out their numbers and concentration, while keeping them off-balance and potentially sniffing out weak spots that can be exploited. In those scenarios, running away without ever making contact with the enemy also means not doing your job.

Except that the discussion was about using light mechs as recon and you randomly brought up a Savannah Master fighting infantry.
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Adastra

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Re: Advantages of light 'Mechs
« Reply #367 on: 19 October 2020, 22:21:35 »
Except that the discussion was about using light mechs as recon and you randomly brought up a Savannah Master fighting infantry.

No? Massey talked about "wandering monsters", using infantry as an example. Then, you argued that random infantry going up against a mech was suicide. Then I pointed out that random infantry can go up against Savannah Masters, and many other recon hovers, which is a point in favor of light mechs. An advantage of light mechs.

« Last Edit: 19 October 2020, 22:24:46 by Adastra »

massey

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Re: Advantages of light 'Mechs
« Reply #368 on: 20 October 2020, 00:02:37 »
The issue with a wandering Savannah Master is actually hitting it.  A SM wouldn't stick around to fight, and even at cruising speed it's not an easy target.

There are already rules for units starting with preexisting damage as a result of ongoing conflict.  If they're not in a running battle with no time to rotate out for repairs, there's no reason for them to have damage- the idea that there are just tons of random infantry platoons floating around ambushing every hostile force that sets foot onto a world simply isn't born out in-universe.

I'm going to be careful not to cross over into Rule 4 territory here (no real world politics stuff), but that's pretty much what the entire Iraq/Afghanistan war was.  And we've seen plenty of references in Battletech to garrison duty units having to hunt down insurgents and partisans.  So I think that's definitely something that exists in Battletech.

You yourself state that there are rules for starting with pre-existing damage.  Now if you were to actually look at how that damage was applied, you wouldn't just be starting by saying "oh my unit has X points of armor damage".  There would actually be some scenario where that damage was taken.  A group of infantry could attack from ambush, or a jet fighter could launch a salvo of SRMs at you and then fly off, or maybe you were involved in a small skirmish yesterday and haven't had time to make repairs.  The point is, attacks like that are very unlikely to immobilize a mech.  It's hard to disable a Battlemech without blowing limbs off of it.  But low intensity attacks like that have a very good chance of immobilizing a vehicle.  Over the course of months of combat, this will take a heavy toll on vehicle forces.

The "wandering monster" is just an illustration of the types of small, low intensity battles that can and do take place in Battletech.

MoneyLovinOgre4Hire

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Re: Advantages of light 'Mechs
« Reply #369 on: 20 October 2020, 00:26:14 »
You yourself state that there are rules for starting with pre-existing damage.

Yes, in instances where there's been a running battle, not clashes with random infantry platoons that just show up around the area with no support.  The Battletech universe is a place where civilian populations are weirdly complacent and don't make a habit of engaging in long-term partisan activities against occupying forces.  A scenario where a force was being repeatedly subjected to hit and run attacks in a campaign would usually be played out as being a case where you fight each individual battle and keep existing damage and ammo expenditure between fights.
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Adastra

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Re: Advantages of light 'Mechs
« Reply #370 on: 20 October 2020, 01:08:18 »
Yes, in instances where there's been a running battle, not clashes with random infantry platoons that just show up around the area with no support.  The Battletech universe is a place where civilian populations are weirdly complacent and don't make a habit of engaging in long-term partisan activities against occupying forces.  A scenario where a force was being repeatedly subjected to hit and run attacks in a campaign would usually be played out as being a case where you fight each individual battle and keep existing damage and ammo expenditure between fights.

For me personally (not going to speak for Massey), what I was envisioning was along the lines of a lance or company of light elements that have breached the front and are scouting/raiding the enemy's rear areas. They're attacking targets of opportunity while evading/reporting in larger concentrations of force. In such a scenario, the mechs will be taking damage from things like picket forces, convoy guards, supply depot garrisons,  VTOLs sent to hunt for them, etc. So less "wandering monsters" and more normal attrition. You hurt them, but they get chances to hurt you.

So to me, attrition would be things like:
-You broke through a weak point in the enemy line: but there were still light forces you had to fight. You kill/ignore them, but they ding you with a few SRMs.
-You come across a picket platoon set up on a nearby ridge, such that they have visibility for many kilometers. They start calling in artillery and reinforcements on you, and would continue to do so if you just ran away, so you wipe them out and bounce before the cavalry arrives. Of course, they disagree strenuously with your decision, and you take a good deal of small arms fire before you can prevail, and one of you gets caught on the edge of a Thumper blast.
-You come across a supply convoy, and start shooting up their trucks. They have some light armor and a mechanized platoon as escort, which you need to fight and destroy to get to the trucks.
-Finding a downed mech, you ambush the salvage crew left behind to recover it. Unfortunately, they managed to get the mech operational enough to fire off a few shots at you.

In all of those situations, you're likely to take at least a little damage, and it's in your best interest to vacate the area as soon as possible. If a unit is immobilized, it's as good as dead, because reinforcements are coming, almost certainly with enough firepower to take out your whole force. Whether someone choses to actually fight out those battles is irrelevant, they still occur within the fiction, and thus should be taken into account when discussing doctrine. In that respect, light mechs seem to beat out other options.

« Last Edit: 20 October 2020, 01:11:07 by Adastra »

SCC

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Re: Advantages of light 'Mechs
« Reply #371 on: 20 October 2020, 04:09:10 »
The point of the D&D reference is to draw a connection between an infantry squad or platoon, and a randomly rolled group of orcs.  The idea is that in D&D, there are enough things out there wandering around that you might encounter a group of monsters that just happened to be in the area.  In Battletech, you wouldn't encounter orcs, but you might encounter a random rifle platoon.  This wouldn't happen in a conventional game between two players, but might in a Mechwarrior campaign with a GM helping to craft the story.  Since this is a tabletop game message board, I figured the posters here would be familiar with the concept.  You could very easily encounter a small group of enemies without them being the focus of an evening's play session.  "On the way to the battle, you get shot at by some jerks with an SRM launcher..."

Battlemechs have a 1 in 36 chance of getting a through-armor-critical on the hit location chart (a 2.7% chance).  From the front and rear, vehicles have a 2 in 36 chance (rolls of 2 and 12, or a 5.4% chance).  From the side, vehicles have a 7 in 36 chance (locations 2, 8, and 12), for a 19.44% chance.  That's not motive hits, that's critical hits.  And the vehicle critical hit chart is a lot more damaging than the Battlemech critical chart.  Even under Total Warfare rules, vehicles are a lot more vulnerable to damage.
And you (I think it was you) said "Two five-point hits to the legs", when hitting the legs it's 50/50 which leg gets hit, so 1-in-4 that they hit the same leg, at which point a Bug 'Mech needs a new leg. And in this situation vehicle crits are a LOT more forgiving then 'Mech ones, because many of them will go away by the time the fight you're traveling to starts
A vehicle that can be quickly repaired in the field might actually be a liability to your side.  If all I have to do is swap out some tires, or repair a broken track, then it's easy for me (as an insurgent enemy) to take your vehicle from you.  Now I have a tank.
Yes, because a tank that is getting a tire change but otherwise functional is so defenseless.

I'm going to be careful not to cross over into Rule 4 territory here (no real world politics stuff), but that's pretty much what the entire Iraq/Afghanistan war was.  And we've seen plenty of references in Battletech to garrison duty units having to hunt down insurgents and partisans.  So I think that's definitely something that exists in Battletech.

You yourself state that there are rules for starting with pre-existing damage.  Now if you were to actually look at how that damage was applied, you wouldn't just be starting by saying "oh my unit has X points of armor damage".  There would actually be some scenario where that damage was taken.  A group of infantry could attack from ambush, or a jet fighter could launch a salvo of SRMs at you and then fly off, or maybe you were involved in a small skirmish yesterday and haven't had time to make repairs.  The point is, attacks like that are very unlikely to immobilize a mech.  It's hard to disable a Battlemech without blowing limbs off of it.  But low intensity attacks like that have a very good chance of immobilizing a vehicle.  Over the course of months of combat, this will take a heavy toll on vehicle forces.

The "wandering monster" is just an illustration of the types of small, low intensity battles that can and do take place in Battletech.
And this just shows why using 'Mechs here is a bad idea, you need infantry in this situation.

Adastra

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Re: Advantages of light 'Mechs
« Reply #372 on: 20 October 2020, 04:23:38 »
And you (I think it was you) said "Two five-point hits to the legs", when hitting the legs it's 50/50 which leg gets hit, so 1-in-4 that they hit the same leg, at which point a Bug 'Mech needs a new leg. And in this situation vehicle crits are a LOT more forgiving then 'Mech ones, because many of them will go away by the time the fight you're traveling to startsYes, because a tank that is getting a tire change but otherwise functional is so defenseless.
And this just shows why using 'Mechs here is a bad idea, you need infantry in this situation.

For 2 5-point hits, that doesn't necessarily mean being down a leg. Even 20-tonners can have 4 IS and 8 armor (the Locust is a prime example). It'll go internal, potentially score some nasty crits, but far from a guarantee. That's not even getting into anything heavier, which can definitely mount at least 10 points of leg armor.

What do you mean by "go away"? Crits don't fix themselves to my knowledge. And repair work isn't exactly something you can conduct on the move. Sure, sometimes a motive crit just means a flat tire, but it can just as easily be a cracked axle, or a melted suspension. Those are not field repairs. At best you'll need an hour and spare parts that aren't typically carried, at worst the whole vehicle is a write-off.

According to Strategic Operations rules, Motive Systems can't be replaced, only repaired (which takes an hour). So if your repair roll fails, the vehicle is done until you can get a better tech. If no better tech is available, the vehicle is just broken.

In any situation where a vehicle is immobilized and the enemy has taken the field, immobilized vehicles are basically lost. The enemy can deal with them at their leisure by using long-ranged weapons, artillery, etc. And that's assuming the tank crew is suicidal and won't bail out or surrender. So if you retreated or withdrew, say goodbye to anything that can't run away. Heck, even if you have control of the battlefield after a fight? As long as the enemy is in artillery range you can sure bet they'll take some parthian shots at your immobilized units.

While some of these situations are definitely better-served with other units, some are things that will happen to you regardless of whether you're on the front-lines or machine-gunning civilians pacifying the population. Things like strafing runs from flyers and artillery are, if anything, more likely to hit you right before you have to fight.

« Last Edit: 20 October 2020, 05:19:38 by Adastra »

SCC

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Re: Advantages of light 'Mechs
« Reply #373 on: 20 October 2020, 05:35:56 »
For 2 5-point hits, that doesn't necessarily mean being down a leg. Even 20-tonners can have 4 IS and 8 armor (the Locust is a prime example). It'll go internal, potentially score some nasty crits, but far from a guarantee. That's not even getting into anything heavier, which can definitely mount at least 10 points of leg armor.
My mistake, I don't know hoe I skipped over the Locust when I was checking out the numbers
What do you mean by "go away"? Crits don't fix themselves to my knowledge. And repair work isn't exactly something you can conduct on the move. Sure, sometimes a motive crit just means a flat tire, but it can just as easily be a cracked axle, or a melted suspension. Those are not field repairs. At best you'll need an hour and spare parts that aren't typically carried, at worst the whole vehicle is a write-off. According to Strategic Operations rules, Motive Systems can't be replaced, only repaired (which takes an hour). So if your repair roll fails, the vehicle is done until you can get a better tech. If no better tech is available, the vehicle is just broken.
Crew Stunned goes, and I'd imagine that Commander and Driver Hits would also resolve themselves before a battle, and I figure that crews would fix things like Weapon Malfunctions and Turret Jams before getting into a fight.
In any situation where a vehicle is immobilized and the enemy has taken the field, immobilized vehicles are basically lost. The enemy can deal with them at their leisure by using long-ranged weapons, artillery, etc. And that's assuming the tank crew is suicidal and won't bail out or surrender. So if you retreated or withdrew, say goodbye to anything that can't run away. Heck, even if you have control of the battlefield after a fight? As long as the enemy is in artillery range you can sure bet they'll take some parthian shots at your immobilized units.

While some of these situations are definitely better-served with other units, some are things that will happen to you regardless of whether you're on the front-lines or machine-gunning civilians pacifying the population. Things like strafing runs from flyers and artillery are, if anything, more likely to hit you right before you have to fight.
The talk of vehicles being immobilized here was by damage from a single or pair of mines/IEDs the vehicle had encountered by chance, or by a roaming platoon of infantry, none of which are situations where the vehicle has to worry about being captured.

Kovax

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Re: Advantages of light 'Mechs
« Reply #374 on: 20 October 2020, 10:46:55 »
A motive hit on a vehicle isn't going to go away, and if you're operating behind enemy lines, you'd better hope that no opposing units happen to spot you while you're attempting makeshift field repairs.  Yes, you can probably still shoot back, but you're an immobile target.  Of course, a gun jam or crew stunned critical hit is likely to be taken care of at the first opportunity, but a commander or driver hit is going to cause a longer-term reduction in effectiveness, even if it may not necessarily stop you from performing your assigned task (although a commander or driver hit on a one-man crew is going to leave the unit inoperative).  Most crews are going to terminate the mission and return to friendly territory for the sake of the wounded, if they can.

Most bug-'Mechs are going to routinely engage and destroy any opposing infantry that get in their way, but a Savannah Master isn't designed for that role, and will most likely try to get out of visual range of the spotters as quickly as possible.  A 'Mech can easily endure the scattered 2-point hits that a typical patrolling enemy Infantry squad will inflict (the odds of encountering a lone unit of field guns or battle armor set up in ambush far behind enemy lines is fairly remote), but a hovercraft would be at serious risk of immobilization, followed by capture or destruction at the hands of that same infantry unit.

Also, if pursued by enemy vehicles, a 'Mech can traverse terrain impassible to the vehicles.  A hovercraft can only do that over water.  Further, in broken terrain, scattered woods, or other areas with a lot of obstructions or hills, the 'Mech will be able to maneuver freely at maximum speed, whereas a hovercraft will often need to reduce itself to cruising speed, or else face a series of piloting checks to avoid becoming part of the terrain.  While there are areas where a specific type of vehicle may be preferable, a 'Mech is a very viable option in almost all of them (swamps or open water being the primary exceptions).

Elmoth

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Re: Advantages of light 'Mechs
« Reply #375 on: 20 October 2020, 11:38:35 »
Well, adaptable strategic mobility and endurance in front of enemy fire are the 2 key advantages of mechs in front of any other unit type after all. That goes both for assaults (both mechs and vehicles)  and recon units.

 

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